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Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 at 12:19 am

Women’s Lacrosse Surges in Second Half to Victory

By Nicole Weaving
Women’s Lacrosse Beat Reporter

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — There is an old saying in women’s lacrosse: “You can’t win a game if you don’t win the draw.” From early in the season opener against UConn, Syracuse head coach Gary Gait knew this was where the problems were occuring for his team.

“It really started with the draw. We weren’t effective,” Gait said. “It was 50/50 ground balls and just not being in the flow of the game. Being a step behind and not anticipating.”

Neena Merola grabbed Syracuse’s first draw control with 19:42 left in the first half, when the score was 3-3. Sophomore goalie Asa Goldstock had three of her seven saves in the first half in that span.

SU barely led UConn 9-8 by the end of the first half. The Huskies had 12 draw controls compared to the Orange’s six. Gait realized he needed to make changes in the draw circle for the second half.

“The key was really we picked it up in the draw circle,” Gait said. “We made some adjustments. We got after those balls and got some draw controls. It kind of changed the momentum and swung it our way.”

Syracuse went on a 7-0 run to start the second half, resulting in the Orange’s 23-11 season-opening win over the Huskies. SU won four out of seven draws in that timeframe.

By the end of the game, Syracuse and UConn both had 18 draw controls. But the tables had turned in the second half as the Orange grabbed 12 draw controls to the Huskies’ six.

With 12 possessions going in its favor, it came as no surprise to Gait that SU scored 14 goals in the second half.

“It took us getting the draws and that really was the difference,” Gait said. “We got the draws. We got two, three, four out of five, and that turned into goals. In the first half, we were scoring on our opportunities. We just weren’t getting that many.”

The changes started with the draw specialists Morgan Widner and Julie Cross, who split time inside the circle.

“The draw people made some adjustments in what they were doing: technique, their stance, their grip,” Gait explained.

Then Syracuse’s midfielders shifted their perspective on the draw to get in a stronger position to get the ball.

“We started understanding what was happening, so we made the adjustments,” Gait said. “Which areas we were going to run into, where the ball was going to go. We started reading that better, so that we were on those ground balls and they were going into our sticks and not the other teams.”

Cross finished with eight draw controls while Widner only grabbed one. Gait explained how each player is better suited for different types of draw specialists.

“Today was a person that pushed really hard,” Gait said. “When you push really hard, Morgan struggles with that a little bit. She likes to go up against finesse draw people. It showed a little bit again today. And, Julie answered the bill on the hard push and got some draw controls for us.”

Without the shift in momentum from the draw, the game may not have ended in the dominating fashion it did.

@nicki_weaves | nlweavin@syr.edu